Global infrastructure leaders find lessons in Covid and emergencies


The rapid global response to the pandemic has raised big questions for how the infrastructure sector responds to climate change and international development.

William Cox, the CEO of global engineering firm, Aurecon, has said that the entire infrastructure sector had to re-ask what was wanted from infrastructure post-Covid.

“We need to ask the societies we serve, and the end users of infrastructure, what are their expectations – and they may be very different post-pandemic.”

He then suggested this should be natural for engineers as that is how they operate successfully, and there were opportunities in doing so too. “We need to keep on asking those difficult questions and it’s a great opportunity with a diversity of workforce to bring that diversity of thinking into our solutions.”

Asked if industry is ready for the challenges it faces, Professor Peter Guthrie from the University of Cambridge, said it definitely is ready and has the ability – but that it may lack the capacity to act on such scale so soon.

He also warned that governments had to understand that meeting the climate and development challenge could not be done by “tinkering on business as usual” and that there was still a “chronic lack of investment in countries most in need of infrastructure investment.”

This will need to be addressed as the world faced a gap between what it is used to and what needs to be done for parts of the world with less.

In this regard, the role of procurement would be crucial and Enzo de Laurentiis, chief procurement officer at the World Bank, sounded an optimistic note on recent rapid change.

Stating that strategic procurement has to be built on a strong evidence base, he welcomed that “the pandemics, earthquakes and other emergencies have pushed us to developing procurement processes that are fast and agile… we have made massive advances in that.”

The group of experts were speaking at the Global Infrastructure Conference, bringing global infrastructure leaders together to address some of the biggest challenges the world faces.

You can read our coverage of the news and insights that emerge here.